September 26, 2022 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

Three Master of Social Work students, Emily Maini '21, Nina Kovacic and Tasha Anderson, collaborated with two faculty members, Dr. Rosemary Vito, Associate Professor of the School of Social Work, and Dr. Rick Csiernik, Professor of the School of Social Work, and Joanna Bedggood, Manager of Student Wellness, to compose a chapter, “The COVID-19 Pandemic’s Impact on Post-secondary Student Counselling Services”, for Post-Secondary Education Student Mental Health: A Global Perspective.

While discussing work on the chapter, Dr. Vito and Bedggood believed that including three students on MSW graduate placement with Accessibility, Counselling and Student Development (ACSD) would make a valuable learning addition to the counselling work at their placement. Dr. ​Csiernik was also brought on board because of his experience and skills in research.

“This was a lovely team to work with and we all felt it was a unique opportunity to have a research project that included the work and perspective of three different campus groups: faculty, students and the Professional and Administrative Officers Association (PAOA​),” says Bedggood. 

Each member of the team contributed dozens of hours and contributed to writing and editing two drafts of the manuscript for submission. The team integrated the King's Mental Health Framework and described how this aligns with the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s National Standard for Mental Health and Well-Being for Post-Secondary Students.

Each of the students was supervised by a faculty or staff member. Dr. Csiernik supervised and assisted Kovacic on secondary data analysis of ACSD statistics. Dr. Vito supervised and assisted Maini and Anderson on searching and writing the literature review and discussion. Bedggood created a case example and was available for consultation on data interpretation, findings, and discussion.

“The students appreciated the close mentorship and support provided by their supervisors,” says Vito.

The students had a great opportunity to see how research informs and is informed by practice. They learned and gained skills in literature searches, manuscript writing and editing, quantitative data analysis, preparing and revising a manuscript for publication, and working as part of a research team. With the completion and publication of the book, the students will have a ​published book chapter as an academic writing credential to add to their CVs.

The study found a substantive drop in the number of students seeking assistance during the pandemic, despite a dramatic increase in the number of presenting issues raised. The most prominent counselling issues were resiliency/coping/stress, mood and emotions, university life, and relational concerns. There was also a noteworthy increase in diversity-related issues over the three-year period.

The chapter reviews the usage of counselling services, both before and after the COVID-19 pandemic and the transition to online learning at King’s, analyzing data from 2018-2021 and illustrating an applied case study to understand trends in students’ stress-coping strategies during this period and to consider service use needs afterwards.

More information about the book can be found here.